Friday, March 19, 2010

Alex Chilton is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself

Alex Chilton's death hit me harder than I would have expected.  I think this article from Slate yesterday speaks to why.

"It's such an icky boomer-like exercise, obsessing over your own demise," a pal told Shafer back in 2005, when he surveyed some of his younger friends about the potential signs of a coming cultural rebellion. True. And boomer self-satisfaction is such that we will probably have to pry the mic stand out of Mick Jagger's sinewy, scarf-draped hands before passing it to a younger generation. That is, if we even want to—because if the signature move of the baby boomer is obsessing over his own demise, then the signature move of the post-boomer is the capacity to be puzzled at our own success. The slacker indifference to accomplishment for which Pavement were beloved, and after which countless successor bands (and fans) modeled themselves, does not make for easy triumphalism. Winning, in this equation, can often look a lot like losing. Hence the generational agony of an article like the one that covered the proudly indie Paste in February: "Is Indie Dead?"

Well, yes, probably, in the sense that the music featured in commercials and in gaudy, months-long reunion tours isn't recognizably the same as what it began life as. (Neither, of course, is "Satisfaction.") But indie-rock fans shouldn't act so surprised that their music is in ascendance. People who were into punk rock in 1980 or Pavement in 1993 are all old enough to be pushing the cultural buttons now—working at newspapers, writing for TV, booking musical guests, A&Ring at labels, and, ahem, writing pieces like this one for national magazines. We were bound to knock boomers and their culture off at some point. Why not right now? (Zach Baron, Slate, March 18, 2010)
Chilton was a boomer, but for a variety of reasons, he spoke to the post-boomers more loudly than to his own cohorts. For years I've shuddered at the smug omni-presence of boomer culture (even though I love old rock and roll--it's a schizoid thing, but then I was born in 1963). But as Baron writes, indie culture has leaked into ascendence without meaning to. And we just lost one of our greatest.

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Blogger Slampo said...

So you being born in 1963 makes you, by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules of Meaningless Generational Designations, a "Boomer," right? It's OK, though, 'cause as Alex Chilton might have said while hiding out offshore, it's all been reduced to silly precision-marketing jive anyway, including "indie." So relax, man, and groove on your exquisite Boomer-ness.

8:18 PM  

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